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Violence Against LGBTQAI Newcomers

Violence against LGBTQAI newcomers may look different because of the unique circumstances they are living in. LGBTQAI newcomers face more barriers to accessing support.

A Note About Language

In Canada, many people use an acronym similar to LGBTQAI. Some newcomers may use very different words to describe sexuality or gender identity. When trying to access social or support services, it can be challenging to find common language to describe identities or experiences.

Who are LGBTQAI Newcomers?

LGBTQAI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, asexual, intersex) newcomers are immigrants, refugees, temporary foreign workers, and non-status people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, asexual or intersex.  

How is Violence Against LGBTQAI Newcomers Distinct?

While this website has focused on male-perpetrated violence against women, It is important to remember that abuse can occur in same-sex relationships. This section will cover the specific experiences of violence that LGBTQAI newcomers may face. Please add this information to what you learned in the sections on violence against women, the types of violence and the warning signs of domestic violence.

LGBTQAI newcomers may experience violence in distinct ways. For example:

  • An abuser may throw out or hide items a trans woman needs (e.g. hormones, clothes, ID, binder)
  • An abuser may threaten to “out” (i.e. disclose sexual orientation or gender identity) someone to their children, friends, neighbours, or employers. They also may threaten to report it to immigration authorities
  • The abuser may restrict them from connecting with others, including LGBTQAI events or communities
  • The abuser may try to prevent or control the gender expression of the person they are abusing
  • The abuser uses the name the person they are abusing used before they transitioned (also referred to as “deadnaming”)
  • The abuser refuses to use the correct pronouns (she/her/he/him/they/them) to describe the person they are abusing
  • The abuser asks invasive questions or ridicules the body of the person they are abusing
  • The abuser sexually harasses or sexually assaults the person they are abusing and claims that they did it to “fix” the sexual orientation or gender identity of the person they are abusing
  • Because of systems of oppression – transphobia, cissexism, homophobia, biphobia, and heterosexism –  LGBTQAI newcomers experience further social isolation, which can be a risk factor for additional violence

What Barriers Can Prevent LGBTQAI Newcomers from Accessing Support?

Gaps in social services can prevent LGBTQAI newcomers from accessing support.

For example:

  • Funding for settlement and newcomer-oriented programs often does not overlap with funding for LGBTQAI-positive programming. Therefore there are very few LGBTQAI-specific services for newcomers
  • Existing LGBTQAI programs may not know how to meet the needs of immigrants, refugees, temporary foreign workers, and non-status people
  • Accessing a shelter, hospital, or emergency response services may feel very unsafe due to the combined impact of homophobia, transphobia, racism, and xenophobia
  • It is difficult to translate important words and terms in diverse LGBTQAI communities when the cultural context changes
  • An LGBTQAI newcomer may have concern about working with an interpreter or service provider from their same community because of experiencing homophobia or transphobia within their community
  • There is a lack of access to health care for LGBTQAI refugees, especially for trans refugees
  • There is a myth that that violence does not exist in same-sex relationships or that a person “should be able to protect themselves” from a same-sex partner
  • LGBTQAI newcomers are often more isolated and may receive less family/community support than other newcomers
  • LGBTQAI newcomers may be less inclined to seek help from police and other services due to mistrust from previous experiences, especially if the countries they previously lived in persecute LGBTQAI people. They also may have experienced discrimination and violence in Canada
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